I’m Dhruvin Soni, an international graduate student pursuing Computer Science at Texas A University-Commerce, submitting a scholarship application for “”. First of all, I would like to thank the organization and committee for providing an opportunity for students to seek scholarship and pursue their dreams with a less financial burden. This scholarship is especially important, as I will no longer be receiving the New Graduate Student Scholarship.

The cost of pursuing your dreams is always high, similarly, I’ve understood the value of quality education since a very young age. My father never had a chance to go to college because as he turned 18, the unfortunate death of my grandfather led to all the family responsibilities on my dad’s shoulder. Since that day it was his dream to see his son graduate, he worked day and night so that I can go to college, he instilled the faith in me that chasing your dreams is more important than chasing responsibilities.

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During my bachelors, I developed a sense inclination towards the term Artificial Intelligence and though my curriculum in bachelors had nothing related to it, my excitement fueled by fascination and curiosity resulted in immense research work. I started reading books on AI, taking online courses and watching youtube videos just to educate myself enough to pursue a career. I came across the book AI: A modern approach and I quote “A student in physics might reasonably feel that all the good ideas have already been taken by Galileo, Newton, Einstein and the rest. AI, on the other hand, still has openings for several full-time Einsteins.” The knowledge I gained made me aware that python is an essential language and the first step on the path of Artificial Intelligence. As my senior year was approaching we had to pick a topic for the final project, I decided to go for the python based project making me the only one doing so out of 130 other batch mates. I was not appreciated much by my professors in going against the stereotype topics and doing something that seemed vague at that moment. There were only 3 companies in the whole state which hired python interns. I got an interview call from only one company, so this was my only chance either to pursue what I love or become a stereotype. I realized in this moment that when you have the only option to make it or sit for your whole life and regret, you give everything you got, and that’s what I did. I stormed through the first interview than through technical interview and during the last round of interview I told HR my dream and what it means for me to join the company. It took a week to receive my confirmation, that was the longest week of my life but the wait was worth it. I learned more than I imagined and my knowledge grew day by day. There came a moment when my team leader told me to train other interns and be their role model. That day seemed I achieved something, a sense of accomplishment ran through me. Soon I was exposed to other technologies and learned iOS development. After completing my internship I successfully landed a job as an iOS developer, that job became my learning benchmark. The amount of pressure and responsibilities I was exposed to lead me to become more self-confident than I ever was, I was simultaneously handling multiple projects and clients, and even completing milestones before deadlines. During my tenure as an iOS developer, I was exposed to clients from diverse countries like USA, South Africa, UK & Singapore.

In the midst of this, the seed to pursue a career in Artificial Intelligence never stopped growing and the urge to divulge in the vast ocean of neural networks & Machine Learning kept o increasing. I finally took the leap of faith and decided to pursue an advanced degree in AI from a land where education is considered a practical approach than a theoretical implication. I went to my parents and told them that my decision may cost them a fortune apart from what I managed to save from my salary. As expected my parents told me “Chase your dreams, we have your back.”

After my masters commenced the only thing that went through my mind was to educate myself as much as I can and be independent, luckily I managed to get a scholarship for new graduate students in my university, but I knew all the way that this was temporary and I need to work hard to educate myself and apply for scholarships next semester. I did a little research on what my professor was working on, it was then when I came to notice that Dr. Derek Harter was performing research in the same area that I was keenly interested. I went to him and explained him my dreams and urge to learn. He acknowledged the curiousness and told me I can voluntarily work with him in his research. I took this opportunity as a challenge and started leaning, I used to go him with doubts and confusion. He kindly helped and showed me the path where I can learn more efficiently. Even at this moment I’m walking on the path he has shown me and I can proudly say that I’ve gained more knowledge than any other student at my age would be expected to know. With what I’ve known I have started my own pet project called Edna, she is my personal digital assistant, way more interactive than any other assistants available. I’m working currently to make her the most advanced AI assistant the world has seen. That is my dream, to make a dent in the universe, to create something so explicit and intuitive that revolutionizes the coming generation. I’ve managed myself to reach this point and I’ve complete faith in myself that with God’s grace and immense handwork I can achieve what has been in my mind for past 5 years. 

Apart from achieving success and living my dream, I want to see pride in my parents eyes and especially my dad that the hard-work & sacrifice he made to see his son achieve what he never did, I want to walk up to him and say, dad, you don’t have to worry about my expenses anymore, I can and I will be independent.